Why now is a good time to be in school...
Dan Stettler: After four (ok, closer to five) years of college, I really had no clear idea of what I wanted to be when I "grew up"... So I did what every other adult does, I got a job. It was a good job in corporate America, but after ten years I wanted something more. I wanted to wake up excited to go to work. I wanted something I could be passionate about. I wanted something that made me feel like I was making a difference. For me, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was the answer. TCM is a field that will challenge me for the rest of my life - always something new to learn. It will allow me to be my own boss (if I choose to). Most importantly, it will allow me to help people on a daily basis. Will it make me rich? Maybe not financially, but in the long run I'll be a happier person with a true sense of purpose. And that's why TCM and school is important to me.
Lynn Vincent: My original reasons for studying traditional Chinese medicine are two-fold: fascination and frustration. I have been fascinated with Asian philosophy since I studied Tai Chi at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, in 1975. I have been frustrated by Western medicine's failure to treat my medical issues: fatigue, migraines and edema. My fascination with Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism centers on the way all of these philosophies have our interconnectedness with nature as a primary theme. The medical paradigm of TCM encompasses this. My soul is fed in this way.
Colet Lahoz, my first acupuncturist, gave me my energy back. I felt like I was in a different body! Frustration transformed to fascination. I wanted to know how she did this, so I decided to make the change in profession from residential energy conservation to the study of this mysterious, complex and powerful methodology. I will be intellectually stimulated for the rest of my life. After two years of study, I can see that the creative possibilities of practicing this medicine are huge. I could possibly work in a hospital setting, set up my own practice, or be part of the modern research that is so active now. I feel very rich in many ways with this occupation.
Leslie Prairie: I am currently a student at AAAOM because I wish to begin another career path. I worked for twenty-two years in a hospital setting and quit due to the realization of what the stress was doing to me. It was a tough call because the pay was excellent, and I had many friends there. After I left, I was able to work as a freelance musician for a time, but it didn't enable me to make a living, so I began to ponder "What's next?" During this period I had a pretty serious back injury and sought acupuncture for treatment. While I was on the table one day, a notion struck me. "What's this acupuncture stuff about? Could I be this type of healer?" I began to do some research and have some long conversations with my practitioner.
It turned out that I couldn't NOT do it. I think the universe was calling me to choose this path. Even though logic says the timing of my education is way off (I will have a son in college the same time as me; I'm not so young anymore; I can't afford it, etc.), I know that this is just the kind of career path I was looking for. I have been so happy following it, and I look forward to my future relationships with patients.
Andy Raak: Given the extremely tough job market, some have decided to return to school and take advantage of student loans to soften the financial blow. Although adding to one's debt load initially appears to be a short-sighted decision, I highly believe that with some forethought and the right intentions it could prove to be a life-changing and powerful decision. In particular, I feel that continuing my education in Chinese medicine prepares me to take advantage of a growing industry and consciousness that embraces holistic wellness, complementary medicine, and proactive health. For all of us, continuing our education today not only will help us ride out a tough and changing job market, it will help us keep abreast of the exponential changes occurring everywhere. New education enables you to reinvent yourself in a way that you personally believe will provide a promising future and make you a happier person for the remainder of your working career.
Achieving My Mid-Life Career Goals by Mona Abdel-Rahman
After 20 years working in a rural hospital as a Registered Nurse, the stresses of 12-hour days and night shifts and constantly being "on the run" were taking a toll on my health. It was clear to me that if I didn't change my profession I would be headed down a road of debilitating neck, back and shoulder problems. Nurses have one of the highest rates of back-related injuries of any profession.
AAAOM has a number of students over the age of 50 like me. Studies indicate that students over age 50 who enter graduate programs to change careers are more likely to experience health problems than their same-age peers who remain on a single career track until retirement. This may sound like bad news for the older student pursuing a graduate degree, but this has not been my experience at AAAOM.
In 2005 when I began the graduate program here, my life became incredibly busy with work, study and travel requirements. This caused a flare-up of my health problems, including celiac disease, which I've struggled with all of my life. Then, in my first year of schooling, I discovered that AAAOM students could receive free acupuncture treatments from student interns in the AAAOM Faculty/Student clinic. I have since been diligent to schedule at least one acupuncture treatment for myself every two weeks. I also regularly use prescribed herbs. In consequence, my health has improved during my years as a student at AAAOM.
The customized, flexible schedule AAAOM allowed me has made my mid-life career change possible. While continuing to work part-time as an RN in Grand Marais, MN, I have been commuting 500 miles every other week to attend school in Roseville. Gracious friends in the Twin Cities have become my surrogate families while I attend classes, and the long drive has become a relaxing time to listen to music and radio, catch up on world events and enjoy the scenery of the changing seasons.
Working as a nurse and caring for patients in the emergency room, on the medical floor and in specialized treatment areas of a rural hospital has provided me with a good background to care for patients with chronic or complicated illness in the AAAOM school clinic. I enjoy the challenge of treating such patients. I may not be able to cure all their ailments, but by improving their quality of life, I can help them go on to enjoy their lives and continue pursuing their dreams.
In the spring of 2012 I will graduate from AAAOM. At age 54, I have never felt healthier in my life. I can feel my career vision moving closer to reality: patients coming to my office for acupuncture/Chinese medicine treatment after a knee or hip replacement, or to minimize the side-effects of chemotherapy, or to alleviate chronic pain. I see myself participating in a growing wave of integrative medicine that, without using drugs and invasive procedures, can offer renewed vitality to people of all ages.
Acupuncture Works: Tales from AAAOM Student Interns
Jesse Rolfes: As I learned about acupuncture points, I would experiment on myself by needling points I was studying. The first time I needled GB 41 (on the top of the foot), I felt a "propelling" sensation of Qi which immediately made me feel my Qi move - especially my Liver Qi. I quickly named GB 41 the "happy point" because it was so stimulating. Now when I treat patients for Liver Qi stagnation and depression I always use GB 41 (usually in combination with GB 34 and the Four Gates), and my patients specifically ask for the "happy point."
Alan Schroepfer: I saw a 56-year-old woman who had suffered from plantar fasciitis for three years. Walking was so painful for her it was almost impossible for her to exercise. After the first treatment, she had temporary relief from her pain for about a day. The second treatment, including local needling on the feet, furthered the good results by relieving her pain for five days. For the next two treatments, I used ashi (tender) points on both feet with appropriate body points. After only four acupuncture treatments, this patient experienced significant improvement from a condition which had troubled her for three years. She and I are both extremely optimistic that she will experience full relief of her foot pain.
Huang J. Chen: I was with a friend when she sprained her left ankle. The ankle swelled up and was tender, and the pain increased when she tried to walk on it. We examined her ankle carefully and believed there was no damage to the bones. In acupuncture there is a treatment theory that if the area you want to treat is too painful to touch, you can treat the same area on the opposite side, or a similar area on the opposite side. In this case, I looked at her right wrist. I found a tender (ashi) point on her right wrist, close to LU 10 (Yuji). After gently massaging the left ankle, I pressed the wrist ashi point for five minutes and asked her to slowly rotate her ankle. A few minutes later, the ankle felt better to her. The ashi point was also less painful when I pressed it again. I continued to press the wrist point for two minutes every hour for the next few hours. Next morning she called me and said her ankle was completely better when she woke up. In this case, I used acupressure instead of acupuncture, but the treatment principle is the same.
Huyen Doan: I was treating a 50-year-old woman for multiple problems. She had stagnation of Qi and Blood, as well as deficiency of the Liver, Kidney and Spleen. One symptom that bothered her was tinnitus of the left ear. After a number of treatments the tinnitus was improving, but I wanted to open up the circulation of qi to her head by treating the Stomach meridian. I palpated ST 9, which is located over the carotid artery, next to the Adam's apple. On the left side of her neck, the artery was swollen-looking and purple in color - it looked much different from the right side of her neck. I tried needling ST 9 on the left side. Later, the patient told me that the next day, the ST 9 area was even more swollen than before, but there was no pain. By the day after that, the swelling had disappeared and her ear was completely free of tinnitus. When I looked at her neck, the left side now looked even better than the right side.
Muni Ceulemans: A woman in her late 20's came in for headaches, which had been bothering her for several months. The headaches were always accompanied by a rush of heat to her face and head. On questioning, I found that the headaches usually occurred between 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. She also mentioned that she had some emotional issues. According to TCM theory, qi circulates through all the meridians every 24 hours. The time frame of her headaches corresponded to the Pericardium meridian. So I decided to try removing heat from the Pericardium by bleeding PC 9, which is on the tip of the middle finger. Using a three-edged needle, I opened the point and pressed blood from her finger. In this technique, you are supposed to bleed the point until the color of the blood changes. In her case, first the blood was dark red, then it got lighter, then it got dark again, and finally it got lighter. As soon as the point was bled, the heat stopped and the headache was gone. Then I went ahead and did a regular acupuncture treatment. The patient bled her own finger a few times at home. She has not had a headache since we did that treatment.
Treating Multiple Sclerosis with Acupuncture by Rachel Nudd
The AAAOM Multiple Sclerosis Clinic began in 2005 as part of dissertation research by AAAOM graduate Dr. Imaim Neng Thao, who pursued his Ph.D. in China for two years before returning to Minnesota to set up his project in AAAOM's faculty/student clinic. After Dr. Thao completed his research, AAAOM continued the project with faculty advisors and student interns. The clinic has become an important resource for many patients, as well as providing invaluable experience for students.
While there is no cure for MS in Western or Chinese medicine, the goal of acupuncture is to curb acute attacks and slow the progression of symptoms. Common symptoms that acupuncture treats include: muscle weakness and spasm, pain, vision problems, tremor, balance/coordination, dizziness, bladder infections, fatigue, and mental/emotional problems. Symptoms that have a mixed response to acupuncture include bladder and bowel problems, numbness/tingling, tinnitus, and memory/concentration problems. Chinese medicine is also successful at treating secondary symptoms such as poor or excess appetite, lowered immunity, anger/frustration, and side effects from medication ("Acupuncture and MS: Practical Applications" by Jill Brookes; May 5, 2009, www.MStrust.com). In a survey of one thousand MS patients conducted by the Rocky Mountain MS Center, 20% of the participants had tried acupuncture. For pain and anxiety symptoms, 66% of the group reported beneficial effects. Improvement of fatigue, depression, muscle stiffness, numbness and insomnia was reported by 50-60% of respondents. Overall, these results indicate that acupuncture is an effective treatment for MS (Allen Bowling, Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis).
A typical course of treatment begins with two sessions per week for the first four to five weeks, followed by weekly treatments for the next several weeks. In successful cases, symptomatic relief lasts for sequentially longer periods between treatments, with symptoms eventually declining in intensity or disappearing altogether. When the condition stabilizes to where treatments are needed less often, patients return to the clinic once every two to three weeks to prevent recurrence of symptoms.
Make an appointment by calling 651-631-0204 ext. 1. MS patients are treated for $15 per treatment. Visit www.MSclinicMN.com for an extended version of this article, including case studies.
Life at AAAOM - Four Students Give Their Perspective
Eric Hayward: In the fall of 2006 I unexpectedly lost a job. With two kids, a mortgage, and a full-time student for a spouse, I am the only breadwinner in our family. The bottom had truly dropped out. It was the perfect time to do something seemingly courageous, unexpected and risky, but in fact, utterly sane.
In the summer of 2007 I enrolled in the Masters program at AAAOM. Reality is constant change; there is no better system to understand change at its most fundamental level than Chinese medicine. Still so early in the program, this is the kind of information I am absorbing-the philosophical and historical layers. Sometimes during lectures I get a feeling for the thousands of years of careful observation, testing and theory behind these mind-blowing statements of fact about the secret life of my internal organs, for example. The idea that human life is a process of change, connected with nature, rather than the sum total of its physical parts, has been the most profound piece of learning I've received.
Actually, my old assumptions about life started to prove false some time ago. Even before I lost that job. I had already stumbled across the realizations that life is short and often difficult, that there is much suffering in the world, and that the happiness I seek in egotistical pursuits will continue to elude me, through an unexpected encounter with Buddhism. Losing the job showed me those truths more plainly than any theory. Enrolling in AAAOM was my way of taking action, making a conscious decision to step outside my adopted worldly nature into my birthright as a human being. Through my education I can learn to better understand myself and the world, and in doing so, help others.
I am most grateful for the way my study of TCM, at this unique institution, deepens my understanding of practices like meditation and Tai Chi, showing how "spiritual" ideas can take form very practically in the world. I don't believe I could have this quality and depth of learning at a school lacking the authentic traditional qualifications of the AAAOM faculty.
With these words I wish that all beings might receive such a life education. But without having to get fired first.
Matt Priebe: My first year at AAAOM has been a good experience. A truly wonderful aspect of this school is the faculty. The instructors are approachable and they are always available and willing to teach. They take the time in the classroom as well as out of the classroom to thoroughly answer questions that students may have. Not only do they teach, they interact with students and take a genuine interest on a personal level with the students.
The school has a comfortable atmosphere, and the students are laid-back and easy going. Everyone is friendly and helpful. Anyone who has something that may be beneficial to others shares it with others, so there is a continuous exchange of information. There is such a diversity of life experiences here that everyone can learn something new from everyone else.
So for me, the expertise of the faculty and the life experiences of the student body combine to create a quality educational institution as well as the knowledge to live a better life.
Mary Rian: A funny thing happened the other day. I woke up one morning to find it was January 2008. 2008! Have three years really gone by already? Back in January 2005 I'd just started classes here at AAAOM. At that time actually treating patients was just a far-off dream. Now, three short years later, I'm logging hours as a clinic intern.
On one hand it seems like only yesterday I was even considering a career in acupuncture. Back then I didn't know the difference between Kidney Yin and Kidney Yang or whether the Spleen meridian started on the face or the foot, and I thought hypochondriac pain was the pain felt by people who thought they were sick all of the time. When visiting the school's clinic for the first time I remember observing the eye-popping needling techniques of Dr. Chi and thinking, "My God, will I actually know how to do that someday?"
The years that have flown by were actually jammed with months of studying and hard work in the classroom. But I've found going from classroom to clinic to be the most important step in learning TCM. Clinic internship has been my chance to take all I've learned in all of those long hours of study and put it to the test practicing on real patients.
Now that I'm into my second trimester as an intern in the student clinic I can say I have been faced with many challenges, successes and also frustrations. What I've found to be the most helpful in my learning process is to remember these few bits of advice: Expectations are the source of suffering. Listen; really listen. Have self-confidence yet keep an open mind. Remain open to the possibility that the books, the supervisors, and you might be right. Remain open to the possibility that the books, the supervisors, and you might be wrong. Have patience. Don't let fear interfere. Trust your abilities and your instincts. Dive in! Knowing comes from doing. Ask questions! Remember there are many ways up the mountain. Remember the mountain might be gone tomorrow. Nothing stays the same. Ask for what you want. Speak from the heart. Take responsibility for your actions. Take advantage of every resource. You get out what you put in. Practice.
Clinic practice has its many and varied challenges, it's true. But at the end of the day I love it and know I am on my way to becoming a real-life practitioner of TCM.
Lindsey Zeutenhorst: As I enter my fourth year here at AAAOM it is hard to fathom that I have made it so far in such a short amount of time. Throughout this time I have maintained a full-time student status, making the study of Oriental Medicine take up the majority of my time. I appreciate the fact that the faculty at AAAOM is here full-time as well, which is very helpful as it allows for the availability of constant academic counseling. The faculty teaching my classes were also the faculty I was observing in the clinic, and finally the ones to supervise me as an Intern. This allowed me to get to know the faculty personally and keep all the pieces of what I was learning together. In addition to the opportunities for coming into contact with Chinese culture that the faculty provides, AAAOM also gave me the opportunity to travel to China. I cannot put into words the positive impact this has had in my life.
I remember when I came to school I was so excited to learn about acupuncture. As I went through my studies I began to see that the program was set up to continually give me a foundation to work from, and then provide opportunities to apply my knowledge. I felt like I was constantly moving forward and completing the steps to my goal.
AAAOM's competitive curriculum has kept me busy and working hard, but the spirit of the faculty and students has been supportive and friendly whether it concerned my studies or my personal life. Thank you. I am amazed that my enthusiasm for learning about TCM today far exceeds my initial excitement. I am confident that I now posses the skills needed to venture out on my own.
I am saddened to think of leaving AAAOM indefinitely, yet confirmed in my belief that I will always be welcomed back. I know this whenever I see alumni come back to be greeted by the smiling faces of students and faculty, eager to catch up and give continued support. When I finish this trimester I will have completed the work needed to receive the Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree, and will set off to new experiences in Traditional Chinese Medicine, leaving full of knowledge and fond memories.
Treating Spiritual and Emotional Issues by Peng Her
I have been a Qi Gong practitioner for 15 years, with a special interest in using it for healing. Studying traditional Chinese medicine has greatly expanded my knowledge in the field of energetic healing. When I went into clinic practice as an intern, my decision was to leave Qi Gong out of the acupuncture treatment. I wanted to experience the two modalities as separate entities so I could clearly distinguish between them. I found that both are based on the same fundamental principles, and that my ability to work with either one improves with patience, diligence, and experience.
Qi Gong is founded on the concept of attaining awareness and developing intuition. After years of practice, I've developed different levels of awareness that are almost impossible to express with words. In my Qi Gong practice I use this intuition in one way; as an acupuncturist I use my intuition primarily to find acupoints and tune in to affected meridians. As I learned the principles of TCM, many things began to fall into place for me. In the past, I had an awareness of energy patterns, but I could not always "name" them or put them into a coherent structure. TCM theory gave me the tool I needed to do this.
In treating emotional or spiritual problems with Qi Gong or Chinese medicine, I have noticed consistency of treatment principles and acupoint combinations. In healing qigong, we express the treatment principle by saying the patient needs "rooting" or "grounding." The concept is to anchor and sedate the mind, therefore allowing mental clarity. In Chinese medicine, we speak of such treatment principles as "calming the Shen," "purging fire" (fire flares upward and disturbs the mind), "opening the heart orifice" and tranquilizing the mind by unblocking the meridians and allowing pure yang qi to ascend to the head.
The most effective approach for me in choosing an acupuncture prescription is to use my Qi Gong intuition to choose the acupoints I want to use. Even though each patient is different, I still find that the same acupoints "pop up" with some regularity. These points are: BL 60, BL 57, BL 40, ST 36, ST 40, GB 34, GB 43, KI 6, SI 3, LU 7, LR 3, DU 20, RN 4, and Shenmen (auricular).
The effectiveness of the Stomach (ST), Gall Bladder (GB) and Urinary Bladder (BL) acupoints is related to meridian theory. Since these three yang meridians begin on the head and end on the feet, energy can be directed downward from the head to the feet by needling points at the distal end of these meridians. In accordance with Qi Gong treatment principles of "rooting" and "grounding," stimulating distal points of the ST, GB and BL meridians will anchor yang qi from the head and ground it into the lower limbs. From the moment I begin locating the point, I'm visualizing qi from the head being pulled down to the point. This intention process is important, and I've found it to be most effective.
The use of LU 7 and SI 3 is also based on meridian theory, as they are confluent points used to open the Ren and Du channels. KI 6 is the confluent point of the Yin Heel extra meridian. RN 4 and DU 20 are key points on the Ren (Conception) and Du (Governing) meridians. They travel upwards from the perineum, along the spine to the upper jaw (Du meridian) and along the front midline to the lower jaw (Ren meridian). People familiar with Indian spiritual practices will recognize that the seven major chakras are positioned along the Ren and Du meridians, and that kundalini rises along the Du meridian.
Today, many people are in pursuit of spirituality. All Eastern spiritual practices I am familiar with have some form of meditation that focuses on the body's centerline, whether it is called "Dantien" or "Chakra." To me, the particular system of spiritual practice which people choose is irrelevant. What I see as a Qi Gong healer, however, is that many people have done damage to themselves due to improper practice. We in the West have a tendency to "push the stream uphill" and think we can master ancient spiritual growth systems in three or four weekends. This can result in stuck qi, uncontrolled qi, chakras that have been "blown open," etc.
Acupuncture can be used to rebalance people who are out of alignment due to improper practice, and may even promote or accelerate spiritual growth (by means of opening the Ren and Du meridians, which run exactly along the Dantien and Chakra systems). In my opinion, adding acupuncture to one's spiritual practice provides a safety net and promotes optimal physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Intern Tips on Attracting and Retaining Patients
Candyce Clayton: Here are ten little ways to show your patients that you have their best interests at heart. These are easy and quick things to do, but they can build trust. When your patients trust you, they are more likely to comply with your instructions and return for treatments.
- Call: Call or leave a message for your patient when they've missed their appointment and let them know it's ok, and that you hope everything is all right. Offer another opening to them that same day or in the near future.
- Remember: Keep in mind things your patients tell you, such as their appointment for an x-ray, their child's birthday party, or their decision to start drinking green tea regularly. Everyone appreciates being considered as an individual, rather than just being a patient.
- Ear Beads: Patients love ear beads because they don't hurt and they work. It is a simple way to increase the effectiveness of the treatment you've just given them, and it helps them to feel cared for. Beads are also a good advertisement for TCM. Order your own supply to carry with you. Some types are better than others, and last a week even in the shower.
- Know Your Herbs: It is exciting to patients to hear about the various herbs, especially common plants , such as honeysuckle or dandelion. Most patients like to know as much as you can tell them about TCM formulas.
- Warm Up: If you have a patient who is deficient, have a heat lamp warmed up in their room in time for their appointment.
- Sized Right: If your patient needs a large gown, grab one at the start of your shift. They will appreciate the thoughtfulness. I know of two women from my office who stopped getting acupuncture because they were embarrassed about not fitting into the small gowns.
- Explain Yourself: Go through the treatment you give your patient each time, even if it's only to say you're going to give them the same needle prescription as last time. If you are going to use a new point, explain why. We all like to be informed about what is going to happen to our bodies, and patients appreciate evidence that you are paying attention to their changing conditions.
- Course of Treatment: With a new patient, tell them what the course of treatment is for their condition. Ask them if they are willing to commit a number of treatments in order to see results. Be sure they understand that it isn't a one-time-and-you're-cured process. If they can't make that long-term commitment, discuss what they are comfortable doing. That way you both have a clear understanding from the start, and put it in their chart for future reference.
- Red Goes to the Heart, Blue to the Kidney: Tell your patients about Five Element Theory and TCM dietary therapy. It's easy for them to remember the colors of the organ systems, and patients enjoy coming up with healthy foods for their most deficient organs. Tell them they can apply the theory to their family's diets, as well.
- Hope: Tell your patients that acupuncture can help them to feel better in many ways, such as less pain, improved sleep, and less anxiety. Even if it won't completely resolve their condition, many people who come for acupuncture come as a last resort when all else has failed to improve their health. When you tell a patient you can help them, they smile and relax, and so they are already starting to heal. TCM theory tells us that a soothed Liver and a calm Heart are important to the balance of Yin and Yang. Giving hope treats the Spirit.
Kristi Berry: Getting patients can be a headache or it can be painless. I have experienced both situations. When I first started clinic, I remember sitting in the intern room thinking, "How am I ever going to get 300 patients?" Now looking back, I have realized what caused the headaches and what made it painless. As professionals, I believe we need to learn and help each other with these things. Building a successful practice is a challenge that we are all going to face at one time or another. So building up a patient base as interns is our training ground for building a successful practice outside of AAAOM.
Instead of completely depending on my own experiences, I thought it would be best to ask others how they got their patients. Some said they solely depended on the front desk to place patients with them, while others seemed to have connections through work outside of AAAOM. And yet others are still not sure just how to get patients. I also asked potential new patients what would entice them into coming to see an intern. When I mentioned that we were using coupons as an incentive for a first visit, they thought a coupon was a good idea but needed more information on what acupuncture could do for them. Another suggestion was to give educational demonstrations in the community. These are all good ideas, and here are a few of my own:
1. Keep a positive attitude and be passionate about what we do.
2. Make a list of all the people you know and contact them, letting them know what you are doing and be able to explain what it is. Ask for referrals, or if they themselves want to come in.
3. Figure out what your strengths are and figure out how to target that population.
4. For a sort of business card, take the Faculty/Student clinic business card and place an Avery return address sticker on the back with your name and email address. If you feel comfortable you can also put your phone number on it.
5. Be ready to talk about TCM with anyone and everyone you meet. Know what we can successfully treat. Find out what each individual's needs are (or what his/her friends' needs are) and find a way to connect with them.
6. Be prepared if you don't have a coupon on you, take down the potential patient's number and get a coupon to him/her.
These are just a few ideas, but remember to trust yourself and the gift you've been given.
A Student's Clinical Experience by Barb Fowlds
Student clinic is the time we students put our learning to practical use. It is a challenging, yet very rewarding time in our studies at AAAOM. Challenging because at first we don't yet posses the experience and knowledge to know exactly which points and herbs to use with every patient but rewarding because our confidence and abilities as practitioners seem to grow by leaps and bounds. As student clinicians we are experiencing many conditions for the first time but as we see patterns repeated in our patients we gain confidence from knowing how to treat that particular pattern.
In my own student clinical experience, one of the most challenging things at the first patient visit, was to form a diagnosis and an effective point prescription relatively quickly compared to a classroom setting. As I have continued to practice this has become much easier and when I encounter a new condition I've not yet treated, I have learned to rely on some of the most commonly used and effective points initially and research the patients condition well for future visits. From this approach I have seen that the most commonly used points have proven to be some of the most effective points for many conditions and I'm well prepared for the next time I encounter a patient with a similar condition.
Another challenge for a student intern can be gaining the patients' trust to help them follow practitioner suggestions outside the clinic. I have learned that patients really do desire to be guided by their practitioner and as we treat each person as an individual per their diagnosis and treatment we need an individual approach to build their trust as well.
The rewards of practicing in the student clinic are many. Working closely with the doctors has been especially rewarding for me. The one-on-one relationship with the doctors gives us a chance to see the diagnostic thought process and to hear the doctors' individual insights on points and herbs. This is tremendously helpful while we try to form our own approaches to treatment. We are fortunate to have the benefit of learning from such experienced doctors at AAAOM. Of course, the most rewarding part of student practice is seeing our patients get better. Seeing them regain their health and to see them start to smile more with each visit and know you have been a part of that, is what we all strive for.
An often overlooked area of the clinic is the reception staff and the administrative staff that helps the clinic run smoothly. Their professional attitude and skills make it easier for the student clinicians to practice and there is much to learn from them about a well run clinic.
The student clinical experience at AAAOM is an invaluable part of our education. It helps us put all the parts of "the web" together and gives us the tools to offer our services to the public as we continue on the lifelong learning of our TCM careers.